The story of St. David’s can be traced back to “Joseph and Mary”.
Joseph and Mary Douglass originally settled the land on which the church was built as well as surrounding acreage. They established “Ivy Lodge” (later “Lochiel”) around 1825 and opened it a few years later as a guest house.
The Douglass’s were joined in 1829 by Samuel North who received a grant of 320 acres. In August 1841 Joseph Douglass and Samuel North subdivided some of the land and established the Village of Northfield, selling off blocks at auction.
William Bowman of Richmond purchased quite a few lots. In 1846 William donated lots 10 and 23 for the use of the Presbyterian Church ………. The land stood and waited!
In 1856 the Rev. James Cameron was inducted to serve the Presbyterian Churches of Richmond, Yarramundi and Kurrajong Heights districts. He travelled up the “Douglass Hill” to take services, usually at private residences, for the increasing population of Kurrajong Heights.
In the same year James and Sophia Comrie had purchased the property called “Northfield” from Samuel North. Researcher, Dr. Paul Cooper, refers to James Comrie as a “Literary Philanthropist” who bought and donated high class literature to many organisations.
When James retired to “Northfield” he increased this activity to supplying books to the local churches, schools and families etc.
The Rev. James Cameron continued to travel up to Kurrajong Heights and beyond. By 1865 he saw the great need for this community to have its own place of worship. He was soon joined by others keen to assist and the necessary money was raised to proceed.
The site donated to the church in 1846 by William Bowman was chosen and plans drawn up for a timber gothic style church. Locals had found a good supply of sandstone located in the creek area nearby, so why not use sandstone instead of timber? Charles Holdsworth took on the building contract. Locals “chipped in” and soon Charles Pitman of Kurrajong and Tom Mason were busy chiselling the blocks and working on the building the Rev. James Cameron would later call “The pretty little stone church on Kurrajong Heights”. The church is a credit to the builder’s workmanship, especially the porch of shaped stone.
The Rev. James Cameron had gone overseas and was not present when the church was opened on 10th October 1867. The Rev. J.B Laughton B.A commenced the service and the Rev. Dr. Steel preached from Psalm 122 Verse 1 at the opening. Thus, the oldest church, in continuous use, on the Blue Mountains was opened for worship.
George Bowman of Richmond donated a set of new testaments to St. David’s “For use in the church only Feb 16/68”. So, services were well underway by then. A Sabbath School was opened with a celebration tea meeting on the afternoon of New Year’s Day 1883.
The first Sabbath School teacher and superintendent was Mr. Joseph Smith. The school was most successful, and Joseph was to support the church and Sabbath School for many years.
A certificate of thanks for his service, signed by Rev. Dr. James Cameron in July 1900, can be seen in the church hall. Joseph continued serving St. David’s in many roles beyond that date. Miss Powell was an organist for approximately 50 years and the organiser of many fund-raising concerts, lantern slide nights and picnics etc. The Estey organ purchased in October 1908 is still at the church. St. David’s continued to thrive and survive drought, hail and bushfires.
The Rev. Dr. James Cameron passed away on 8th October 1905 after serving the Richmond – Kurrajong District for 50 years. His memorial in St. David’s was unveiled on Easter Sunday 1906.
By 1910 some repairs were needed and at the same time the windows were re-glazed with cathedral glass “of suitable tints”. Through many years of wars, peace and depression a faithful remnant congregation worshipped at St. David’s. By 1953 the walls of the church had started to move and crack. Stabilizer ties were installed in 1954 to secure it. The roof was replaced in 1963.
The centenary was celebrated on 7th November 1965 in the belief back then that the church had opened in 1865. The moderator of the Presbyterian Church, the Rt. Rev. J.F. (Fred) McKay M.B.E. M.A. B.D. conducted the service and preached his sermon from Psalm 121 Verse 1.
In 1977, St. David’s became part of the Uniting Church in Australia.
The small wooden vestry that was originally at the back of the church became weathered and dangerous. The bottom section of the land on which the church stood was sold. The proceeds were used to build the rear extension hall we have today. The hall was opened on 5th November 1995 by the long-time elder, Mr Arthur Poole.
The 1st May 2012 marked St. David’s inauguration as an independent congregation. Up until that date the church had been part of the Windsor – Richmond Parish. Being a separate congregation now involved St. David’s finding and funding its own part-time ministers and being responsible for its own affairs.
We are extremely grateful to the many preachers and lay people who have given their services and their time to St. David’s to spread the Word of the Lord Jesus to all. The family connections to the builder, Charles Pitman continually served and worshipped at St. David’s. Charles’ son Clem Pitman was on the committee for most of his life. Clem and his wife, Daisy’s daughter, Ena Pitman attended the Sabbath School in the 1920’s and worshipped here. She died in 1994 and her funeral was conducted by Rev. Fred McKay. Her son, Don Webster, is the current caretaker. He is proud to ring the bell of the church that his great grandfather helped to establish.
The current custodians feel privileged to join the pioneers and many families who have been the backbone of this church for the last 150 years.
We praise God for their dedication in keeping the church open and fulfilling the dreams of the Rev. James Cameron and his group of friends and believers who raised the initial funds for “The pretty little stone church on Kurrajong Heights”.